- Clemson’s freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross played a pivotal role in the Tigers’ 30-3 rout of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the Cotton Bowl, pulling in six receptions for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns on the afternoon.
- According to Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger, Ross tried to quit football altogether just four years ago after becoming the first true freshman in at least 25 years to earn a spot on his high school’s varsity team.
- After Ross stopped showing up to team workouts, Central (Ala.) High School head coach Jamey DuBose had to lock the wide receiver in his office and try convincing him to rejoin the team before he agreed to continue playing football.
- Ross later went on to become the top-ranked recruit in the state of Alabama before taking his talents to Clemson.
Clemson’s true freshman wide receiver Justyn Ross had a breakout game at this season’s Cotton Bowl, pulling in 6 receptions for 148 yards and 2 touchdowns and playing a pivotal role in the Tigers’ 30-3 rout of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
He’s surging at just the right time. Ross and the Tigers are just a game removed from winning a national championship. So it seems unfathomable that, just four years ago, the Phenix City, Alabama, native tried with all of his might to quit football altogether.
“He quit every day,” Ross’s mother, Charay Franklin, told Sports Illustrated’s Ross Dellenger.
Part of his motivation to part ways with football, according to Dellenger, was his love for basketball. Another component of Ross’s decision was – ironically enough – his frustration with becoming the first true freshman in head coach Jamey DuBose’s 25-year tenure to earn a spot on the Central (Ala.) High School varsity team.
All of Ross’ friends were playing for the junior varsity team, so he decided to focus on his dream of playing college basketball and missed football workouts in the process. But DuBose wouldn’t let him quit.
“God gave him special talents,” DuBose said. “I couldn’t let him walk away… I thought then that a lot of fans around the world are going to one day be knowing Justyn Ross.”
So DuBose brought Ross into his office for a meeting and talked him into sticking with football.
“We stayed in my office hour or hour and a half,” DuBose said. “I stood in front of the door. ‘You’re not leaving. I’ll never let you quit. They will fire me before you quit.'”
And, eventually, Ross decided to stay.
“I just lost the love for it,” Ross told Dellenger. “My coaches kept me around, and I came back to my senses. They saw something special. And they were right.”
Ross became a star for DuBose’s team and quickly rose up the recruiting ranks until he was the No. 1 recruit in the entire state of Alabama. He had his choice between Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, Michigan, Clemson, and others, and ultimately chose the Tigers in lieu of his hometown Crimson Tide.
So far it’s worked out well for the 6-foot-4, 205-pound wideout. Through his 13-game collegiate career, Ross has amassed 847 yards and eight touchdowns on just 40 catches. He ranks third in the ACC and fifth in the nation with 21.2 yards per reception.
Ross undoubtedly has a long, bright football future ahead of him, but for now, he’s focused on helping Clemson earn its second national championship in three years.
“We talk about Trevor [Lawrence] in these big stages, but it’s the same for Justyn Ross,” Clemson quarterback coach Brandon Streeter told Dellenger. “They are true freshmen. They are making big plays that are game-changing plays. He does it with ease. He’s special. I mean special.”
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